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CCLHP: Top 5 Legal Cases in Coles County


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



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riot marker

1. One of Abraham Lincoln's most controversial cases is Ashmore for use of Brant et. al. v. Matson, (Coles County Circuit Court, October 1847), where he defended Robert Matson, a slave owner who was trying to retrieve his runaway slaves.

2. The Charleston Riot on March 28, 1864 occurred after Union soldiers and local Republicans clashed with Civil War opponents, known as "Copperheads."

3. Coles County's first recorded lynching case occurred in February 1856, when an angry mob forcefully removed Adolphus F. Monroe from his jail cell and hanged him.

4. Charles H. Morton is the plaintiff or defendant in some 25 cases: most are for debt, at least one is regarding boarders, (Morton rented out lean-tos to new settlers), and one is regarding a robbery of boots, a silk waistcoat, and textiles, (probably from Morton's store).

5. Highland v. Crow involves a draft substitute during the Civil War. William Highland (plaintiff) sued Philip A. Crow (defendant) because he claimed that Crow was in unlawful possession of a promissory note written by John McCoy. Crow hired Highland in October 1864 to serve in the U.S. Army for one year in place of Jackson Harsh. Shortly after, Crow paid Highland $550 to serve as a substitute, and Highland loaned McCoy $450.


Sources & Bibliography


Crime and Punishment in Illinois was originally constructed by Mirjam Mueller and Aaron Osborne with the assistance of Peter Noll and Hartmut Wahl. The site was previously managed by Jason Waggoner and Joshua Mason. Dr Terry Barnhart and Dr Newton Key served as advisors for the project.

This is part of the Coles County Legal History Project (CCLHP), a research project aimed at using legal documents to illuminate 19th-century society in Mid America, starting in the 1830s. Student and faculty researchers, (primarily from the History Department of Eastern Illinois University), analyzed and categorized civil and criminal cases, and to placed the information into the CCLHP, a freely accessible online database. We hope that historians, undergraduates, graduates, high school teachers and students, as well as genealogists and other interested individuals, can glean useful information from the database. CCLHP already provides excellent data for comparative legal history, as well as the local impact of the railroads, the Civil War, and the increasing integration between local markets and larger markets such as Chicago. The database provides a broad comparative background for what was going on in the country during the time of each incident.




Last Updated: April 13, 2017 by Brock Stafford, Presidential Graduate Assistant, Historical Administration Program

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